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SAP S/4HANA Overview: Your Guide for the Upcoming Migration

The clock is ticking: 2027 marks the end of maintenance for SAP ECC 6. Time is running out. That’s why we’re giving you a concise overview of everything you need to know about SAP S/4HANA and its implementation.


What is SAP S/4HANA?

S/4HANA is the current product generation of SAP and one of the most advanced ERP systems. S stands for simple, 4 represents the fourth product generation. HANA is the underlying database technology that features in-memory technology. This allows for real-time retrieval and processing of large amounts of data, resulting in improved performance with S/4HANA. S/4HANA can be operated both in the cloud (public or private) and on-premises.

How does the transformation to S/4HANA work? Which scenarios are there?

Coming from SAP ECC, there are various implementation scenarios for SAP S/4HANA. One notable approach is the Greenfield approach. In this case, you start with the S/4HANA system from scratch, as if starting on a “green field.” This involves introducing a completely new system, often after a business process re-engineering. The counterpart to this is Conversion, where the old ERP is migrated to S/4HANA while retaining the existing processes. In between, there are various hybrid scenarios. It cannot be generally stated which migration scenario is right for you. It depends on various factors, and each scenario has its advantages and disadvantages, which will be extensively covered in the following articles:


S/4HANA Converion Guide

Learn about the most important aspects of a migration to SAP S/4HANA using the brownfield approach. Following a structured approach based on SAP’s Activate method, we guide you through all project phases in the white paper, from project planning to go-live.

Key success factors for S/4HANA implementation

Whether you are transitioning from an SAP ECC system to S/4HANA or if S/4HANA is going to be your first fully-integrated ERP system, there are certain factors you need to consider to ensure a strategically successful implementation.

  • Reevaluate Processes
    The starting point should always be the business processes within the company. Have you already optimized and streamlined your processes in the ECC system? If so, it may make sense to transfer them to the new S/4HANA system through conversion. However, if the processes are suboptimal, it is crucial to optimize them during the migration. This way, you can fully leverage the advantages of the S/4HANA system. In this case, the Greenfield approach is recommended. For many companies, the situation is not clear-cut, and hybrid scenarios make sense.
  • Data Cleansing
    Data cleansing should always be performed before the actual transition to S/4HANA to ensure that legacy data is not carried over into the new system.
  • Analyze Custom Developments and Deviations from Standard
    What is still needed and what can be eliminated? Especially when migrating to the public cloud, not all custom developments can be easily carried over. However, even in the on-premise version of S/4HANA, it is advisable to assess what can be brought back into the SAP standard. In the article “Myths in ERP projects,” you will learn, among other things, how to classify your own processes to identify where custom development is worthwhile and where it is better to rely on SAP standard and best practices.
  • Best Practices
    Study SAP’s best practices to identify improvement potentials and gather insights. Read the article “How to use SAP Best Practices when implementing SAP S/4HANA” to learn where to find SAP’s best practices, what they entail, and our recommendations on how to leverage them.
  • Migration Time Planning
    Ensure that you allocate sufficient time for your migration. Especially with the steps that can be taken prior to the actual migration, it is advisable to start early. These steps will also assist you in determining the best path for your company.
  • Key User Concept
    Use external consulting services to avoid operational blindness. However, keep in mind that consulting capacity is becoming increasingly scarce. As the end of ECC maintenance approaches, it will become more challenging to find available consultants who are the right fit for your company. An important success factor in the S/4HANA implementation is your SAP key users. Prioritize defining their roles and responsibilities precisely and develop a key user concept in advance!
  • Change Management
    The implementation of SAP S/4HANA naturally brings about several changes for the affected employees. This starts with their involvement in the transition process and extends to the impact of the new system on individual users’ work processes after the implementation. Therefore, accompanying change management is immensely important for the project’s success:

    Change Management
    New Change Management Methods: Farewell instead of Unfreeze
    Ready for change? Let’s take a look at the Change Readiness Check

An overview of the sub-steps in your SAP S/4HANA project can be found in the post Your Roadmap for the SAP S/4HANA Migration.

The SAP Readiness Check helps you to check whether your ERP system is ready for the migration to SAP S/4HANA.

New Features of SAP S/4HANA

Fiori User Interface (UI)

You can access the functions of SAP S/4HANA as usual through the SAPGUI interface. However, there is also the option to use SAP Fiori as a new user interface. In Fiori, applications are organized as tiles, similar to the app layout on mobile devices. The following articles provide an overview of the Fiori concept, guidance on selecting the appropriate apps, and specific details for various areas:

Our S/4HANA workshop offer for you:

S/4HANA workshop offers

Are you just starting out with S/4HANA? We will give you an initial overview.
You will learn about the innovations in S/4HANA in logistics, accounting and the user interface. In addition, migration scenarios and appropriate project approaches.

Time required: 0,5 days

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You have the task to develop the S/4HANA strategy in your company? We teach you the cornerstones of the S/4HANA implementation.
Effects on business processes, organizations, master data and employees are topics of the workshop as well as migration scenarios and target architectures.

Time required: 1 day

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You have already gained an initial overview, but have further questions on various points? You can put together your own workshop from a modular system of possible in-depth topics. As the workshop is put together individually for you, the required time is not fixed.

Time required: 0,5 – 2 days depending on individual arrangement.

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The S/4HANA implementation “on the greenfield” is already set for your company?
In the workshop, we develop together with you the appropriate roadmap with time and budget planning and address topics such as data transfer, preliminary work, etc.

Time required: 1 – 2 days, depending on individual arrangement.

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You have decided on Conversion as the scenario for your migration? Learn in the workshop how to best approach your SAP S/4HANA conversion project and develop your digital roadmap.

Time required: 0,5 – 2 days depending on individual arrangement.

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About the author
Sabine Hofmann
Sabine Hofmann
As long-time marketing employee I am a member of the editorial team of the PIKON blog.

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